LONDON BRIDGE. The Arches. 57


Peers. And over the Houses were stately Platforms, leaded with Rails and Ballasters about them very commodious, and pleasant for walking, and enjoying so fine a Prospect up and down the River; and some had pretty little Gardens with Arbors.

This Half being thus finisht, the other Half was intended to be rebuilt answerable to this, which would have been a great Glory to the Bridge, and Honour to the City, the Street or Passage being 20 Foot broad; whereas the other Part at the South End was not above 14, and in some Places but 12.

The other Part remained unbuilt.

And in this Condition was London Bridge until the Year 1666, being the general Conflagration of London, on the 2d of September 1666, which continued burning the 3d and 4th Days, and then was all the new Buildings consumed. But the old Ones at the South End, some of which were built in the Reign of King John, were not burnt.

Burnt again, Anno 1666.

Thus have we had an Account of this Bridge from its first building of Timber; when it began to be built of Stone, which was in the Year 1176, unto the Year 1666, which is 490 Years. I shall now give you a View of this Bridge as to its present Condition, Anno 1700. God grant it may long so continue, being a Pile of such Building as cannot be paralled upon any Bridge in the World.

The Modern State of this Bridge.

First then, by reason of the Fire in 1666, the Fall of the Buildings on the North End, together with the Violence of the Fire, did so batter and weaken the Stone Work upon which they stood, that the Repairing the Stone Peers and Arches, before they could be made strong enough to build upon, did amount to above 1500l. All which was paid out of the Bridge Rents.

The North End of the Arches Repaired.

The Reparations of the Stone Work being finished, divers Persons did take Leases of so many Foot in Front on both Sides of the Bridge to Build upon at 10s. a Foot: and to Build thereon after such a Form, and substantial Manner, as was prescribed, and is now Built for the Term of 61 Years. And by this means, all the North End was in the space of five Years, or thereabouts built Four Stories high; the Street, or Passage being 20 Foot Broad.

This North End being thus finished, it was high time to consider of an Expedient to make the South End answerable to the North; for all the old Buildings were out in Leases in several Hands, some having more, and some fewer Years to come, and some were quite out. And how to bring this to an equal Balance, that all Persons might have Right done them, was the Business to be taken into Consideration; which the Lord Maior, Aldermen, and Commoners, that were appointed for the letting of the City and Bridge House Lands, together with the Assistance of Mr. Philip Odde, then Clerk Comptroller of the Bridge House, did in a few Months bring to an Issue by these Means following.

North End of the Bridge new built.

First, they caused to be measured, how many Foot every Proprietor had in Front of his House. Secondly, What Annual Rent he paid to the Bridge House. And Thirdly, What Number of Years of his Lease were unexpired. The next Rank were of those whose Leases were expired. The Third such as were near expired. These they purchased at a valuable Consideration of the Tenants, who were not able to Build. And for such as had a longer Time, they (in Consideration thereof) added a competent Time to what they had to come of their old Leases, with an Abatement of Rent, answerable to what the House, or Houses would cost the Rebuilding, which was to be in the same Form of Building, as the North End was then done: The City being at the Charges of repairing and making good the Stone Work, fit for the new Buildings; which Reparations cost the City near 1000l. more. And by this Means the South End was in four or five Years new Built in all Respects answerable to the North; so that now it is the most stately Bridge in the whole World, all Things considered; its Houses, Inhabitants, and their Trade in the first Place to be considered. And therefore most justly deserves this following Encomium.

Method for Building the Bridge after the Fire.

The South Part builded.

Stupendo situ & structurâ,
ad instar
Celebris Hexastichi Poetæ
SANNAZARII, De urbe Veneta
Viderat Hadriacis, &c.

Cum Londinensem Neptunus viderat Urbem,
Vectus ibi propriis atque revectus aquis;
Dum densam penetrat Sylvam Lucosque serentes,
Pro ramis funes, pro soliisque cruces;
Cum super impositum Torrenti flumine Pontem
Viderat, et rapido ponere jura freto;
Cum tantos muros, serrumina, castra, tot Arcus
Vidit, & hæc tergo cuncta jacere suo;
Arcus, qui possent totidem formare Rialtos
Metiri siquis summa vel ima cupit:
Hæc Deus undarum aspiciens fluxusque retrorsum
Tundere & horrendos inde boare Sonos;
Nunc mihi quanta velis, Terræ miracula pandas,
Est primus mundi Pons, ait, iste stupor.

The same Paraphrased in English by JAMES HOWELL, Esquire.


" When Neptune from his Billows London spy'd,
Brought proudly thither by a high Spring Tyde,
As through a floating Wood he steer'd along,
And dancing Castles clustered in a Throng;
When he beheld a mighty Bridge give Law
Unto his Surges, and their Fury awe;
When such a Shelf of Cataracts did roar,
As if the Thames with Nile had changed her Shore;
When he such Massy Walls, such Towers did eye,
Such Posts, such Irons upon his Back to lye;
When such vast Arches, he observ'd that might
Nineteen Rialtos make for Depth and Height;
When the Cerulean God these Things survey'd,
He shook his Trident, and astonish'd said;
Let the whole Earth now all the Wonders count,
This Bridge of Wonders is the Paramount.]"

The Arches of this Bridge serve not only for Strength and Ornament to the Bridge it self, but also for Communication of the Benefits of the River Thames, to all that lye on its Banks from Westminster and upwards, unto those Parts of it where it falls into the Sea. For through these great Arches Vessels of considerable Burthen pass with Goods, as well as small Wherries with Passengers. Other Uses were made of these Arches, as for Conveyance of Thames Water into the City, to supply the Southern Parts, and for Mills for grinding Corn. Of which last Use, I find there were in Q. Elizabeth's Reign, certain Mills Erected for that Purpose, under or near London Bridge, by order of the Magistrates of the City. To which as soon as they were set up some Exception was taken, and Complaint made, as it seems to the Court; as that they might prove injurious to the Bridge or to the River. But it was shewn, that the Bridge could take no Harm by these Works. And it was provided for by this Means, that the Water had, or should have its full Course through the Arches; and that that Part of

The Arches.

The Uses of them.

J. S.

Mills for Corn Erected here.